The Top 10 Non-Traditional Careers for Life Science Professionals

woman in front of blackboard filled with math problems, wearing a graduation cap

Updated: December 28, 2018

Many recent college graduates with science degrees wonder, “What other careers are available outside of a laboratory or research environment?”  Concurrently, a large amount of mid-career and late-career professionals consider pursuing non-traditional science roles.  The world of academia is an option, but if you’re looking for a full-time position it’s highly competitive.  Overall, less than half of life science professionals with doctorate degrees work in academia.*  Of that group, only a small percentage actually have full-time faculty positions.*     

What are the best career options for life science professionals who want to do something different?  According to Leslie Loveless, CEO of Slone Partners, “Science is more exciting now than it’s ever been with the capabilities of personalized diagnostics and medicine…There is an enormous demand for [individuals] with a strong science background and business acumen.” 

Click to search for life sciences jobs

Yaffa Grace, Founder of Yaffa Grace & Co mentioned that the field of “rare disease is experiencing tremendous growth…In addition to health technology and rare oncology.”  Due to rapid advancements in health, medicine, and technology, organizations must remain innovative with their products and services.  Those with a passion for life sciences and a strong work ethic are in a prime position to have a thriving career. With the help of two industry experts, we compiled a list of the top 10 non-traditional careers for life science professionals.

Clinical Informatics Coordinator: $77 - 92K U.S. salary range.  Clinical Informatics Coordinators are sometimes referred to as Health Information Managers and are responsible for maintaining the security and integrity of information databases.  This career can be extremely rewarding for those with an interest in data science.

Regulatory Affairs Manager: $107 - 129K U.S. salary range.  Regulatory Affairs Managers ensure the compliance of their organization with applicable, industry regulations. A large part of their time is spent in collaboration with other departments developing strategies to maintain governing compliance. 

Managing Director of a Private Equity Firm: $350 - 405K U.S. salary range.  Private equity firms that invest in life science and diagnostics products can be ideal environments for those with a strong science background, who understand business and market demand opportunities.  Managing Directors can be responsible for a wide variety of areas including thought leadership, strategy, structure, and market positioning of their firm.

Health Services Director: $113 - 136K U.S. salary range.  Health Services Directors are accountable for maintaining quality of care and quality of life for residents at their facilities.  They must have strong leadership abilities to support the staffing, operations, and budgeting functions for their locations.

Medical Technical Writer: $71 - 85K U.S. salary range.  Medical Writers utilize their scientific experience and their ability to clearly communicate with a non-technical audience.  They may write medicine and health-related documents for academic institutions, healthcare organizations, and pharmaceutical companies.  

Business Development / Sales Representative: $84 - 101K U.S. salary range. Medical device and pharmaceutical sales representatives focus on establishing relationships with doctors and clinical organizations directly to sell and promote their products.  Representatives are often traveling to different locations, networking, and attending industry events on behalf of their company.

Technical Marketing: $59 - 70K U.S. salary range.  Individuals in technical marketing usually work within the product marketing department to ensure that products meet specifications.  They also could be responsible for assisting with the creation of documentation for print and online mediums.

Case Manager (Medical & Disease): $68 - 87K U.S. salary range.  Case managers evaluate patients based on their treatment plans previously prescribed by a doctor.  They often collaborate with patients, doctors, medical staff, and family members with regards to the success and recovery of a patient.

Health Advocate: $42 - 50K U.S. salary range.  Health Advocates can be employed by government organizations, universities, or other healthcare organizations.  They often teach, promote, and build awareness around a specific condition, disease, and/or overall healthy living. 

Medical Science Liaison: $132 - 154K U.S. salary range. According to Samuel Dyer, CEO of the MSL Society, first-year Medical Science Liaisons with no experience average around $132K a year. Medical Science Liaisons are researchers who serve as the connection between the healthcare industry (clients and healthcare organizations) and product development teams.  They are accountable for staying current on product development processes, industry information, and research developments.

Click here to see thousands of life science jobs on BioSpace's job board.

Sources: 1. National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics. June 2017. ; 2.National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, special tabulations of the Survey of Doctorate Recipients. 2011. ; 3. SalaryExpert Salary Calculator. 2018. ; 4.Health Advocate Job Description, Career as a Health Advocate, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job ; 5. PayScale

Porschia Parker is a Certified Coach, Professional Resume Writer, and Founder of Fly High Coaching. She empowers ambitious professionals and motivated executives to add $10K on average to their salaries.

Leslie Loveless is CEO of Slone Partners founded in 2000. Slone Partners is North America’s leading life sciences and diagnostics executive search firm.

Yaffa Grace is the founder of Yaffa Grace & Co, a Biotech and Pharma recruitment and career strategy firm that works with companies and candidates to match talent with opportunity. She's a career strategist and talent acquisition specialist with a 20+year proven track record.

Back to news